"A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot." - St. Augustine
I'm about 12% Alleluia on any given day, but I'm working on it.

THE PINISHERS, Volume 4: Family

Hello again, Pinishers! We are getting into a groove here, aren’t we? We are not going to let the month of May and its constant family-related events and end-of-school-year ceremonies get in the way of our quest. Our quest…to actually do something we’ve been meaning to get around to. Or—OR—and this is key—remembering things we did a few weeks ago and taking credit for them.

This week’s theme is family.

Pinisher blog link-up

Link to Original Project: DIY-ing the Emmys: Make Your Own Bow Tie.

Link to My Pin: Pinned after the fact. I admit it. No shame in that.

Follow me on Pinterest here.

I generally complete sewing projects at a rate of one per year, but I make that one project count by doing something insane, like cutting up my wedding dress to make a First Communion Dress. Last Easter, I decided to practice before I disassembled my wedding dress; I made an Easter dress for my daughter with the same pattern. And I’m glad I did, because the pattern needed quite a bit of altering in order to fit her correctly.

This year, she was happy to wear her Easter dress again, which is good because it didn’t even occur to me that she might want a new dress. I always feel bad that I don’t sew things for my sons, so I decided to make matching bow ties for my husband and the two boys. I had quite a lot of fabric left from the previous project so I was able to do so the night before Easter, because I am incapable of planning ahead.

This tutorial was easy to follow but MAN, did the bow ties turn out tiny. The one I made for my younger son was so small that it required extensive effort to get it turned right-side-out after the initial “sew the two pieces together and leave a small hole to push the fabric through.” The finished product would probably be the right size for a Beanie Baby. I’ve already misplaced it so I can’t take a picture, but trust me on this one.

So, I ended up giving Daddy’s bow tie to my older son, and the one I’d made for my older son to my younger one. They fit the boys just fine, but if I were to try this again – I honestly don’t know how I’d figure out what size to make the tie.

Sew your own bow ties

There you have it.

Now, I know we’re all looking forward to next week, when the theme is FAIL, but surely you can find something from the last year to fit “family,” right? Looking forward to reading your posts!

If you’d like to use a handy-dandy template for your post, here’s the basic template, or here’s a special version for this week’s adventure-themed badge. (And here’s how to use the templates.)

If you just want the snazzy adventure-flag badge, here’s the code to copy and paste. Make sure you’re in HTML mode (switch to the tab that says “Text” or “HTML” in your blogging editor) and not regular composition mode.

 Loading InLinkz …

Seven Quick Takes, Props Edition

This week’s quick takes post is all about the PROPS. An expression the young people were using APPROXIMATELY THREE DECADES AGO. Represent.

— 1 —

It’s been a pretty nerdy week for me, largely because I decided I couldn’t do this one thing until I figured out how to do this OTHER thing, but then that required I learn how to do this third thing, and at the end I was allWordPress success and my friends and loved ones were strangely unfazed by my victory dance. But I owe a great part of my success to my WordPress friend Brandon Kraft, who helped me figure out  (insert garbled nerd language) so everybody give him a hand! Brandon just rebrandoned (HA! GET IT? NO?) his design business this week so be sure to check out Coffea Web Services. He’s part of Austin Catholic New Media and his wife, Vanessa, writes a terrific column at Busted Halo. Total pros, the Krafts.

— 2 —

I also had help from one of the team members at WPEngine, my new WordPress web hosts. Y’all, I am so impressed with WPEngine. If you at all like to tinker with your site and maybe, just maybe, break it in the process, you will enjoy the fact that you can create a duplicate “staging” version of your site with one click. Why, if you were to look at my staging site right now, you’d see it was completely broken! (It’s been a long week.) Broken by me, though, and nobody is the wiser, thanks to the fact that it’s not happening on my live website. Anyway – I mentioned I was having issues with (insert more garbled nerd language) on Twitter and one of their team members not only emailed me to help but also removed the missing parenthesis that was causing some of the trouble. Highly recommend them. They cost a bit more than traditional web hosts but it’s worth it.

— 3 —

Sips of Sunshine blogMoving on – please welcome to the world of blogging my dear friend Heather Kallus, who posts funny, reflective columns on family and parenting once a week at Sips of Sunshine. Heather is a tremendously genuine, funny woman and – wait, I already said “funny” – well, she is. I really hope you’ll enjoy her writing, and please leave her a comment to say hello!

— 4 —

Whether you homeschool or just want to help your children improve their writing skills, I encourage you to check out Ms. Scribbles’ Writing Workshop. Ms. Scribbles offers writing workshops for young writers – this is such a creative idea:

The workshop, conducted via email, is simple, convenient, affordable and effective. Parents must have access to the email account their child uses so they can monitor progress and provide oversight.

I accept one email per day per student, which can be sent to me at any time. Siblings can share a course, but the “one email” rule still applies. Parents can send one email per day too, in addition to the one the student may send.

As the parent of one effusive letter-writer and one Reluctant Participant in All Activities Everywhere, I am hoping to utilize Ms. Scribbles’ services next fall. For the kids, I mean. AND I have just learned that Ms. Scribbles just moved to Athens, Georgia, which is CRAZY because that is where I am FROM. Wow.

— 5 —

I was so excited to meet Lisa from Of Sound Mind and Spirit this week when she dropped by to give me their family’s extra information packet for Lemonade Day, an activity in which we will probably not participate because we are both disorganized and committed to Rocket Day that afternoon. It’s always fun to meet “virtual friends” in person and nice to have someone to talk to who shares an interest in social media while also realizing the inherent ridiculousness of things like Klout. Lisa also alerted me a few weeks ago to the increased number of alligator sightings in our town, which has given me an opportunity to contemplate the wonders of God’s creation, my own mortality, and the correlation between chilled-out waterfowl and probable absence of alligators. (This is what I tell myself when I walk by a body of water and see ducks but no gator.)

— 6 —

Wedding dress to First Communion Dress

SUCH mad, mad props to both my next-door neighbor, who threaded my serger and is removing the beading from the bodice, and to my mother-in-law, who helped me cut the skirt down and insert the zipper.

Right – did I not mention that there are eight days until my daughter’s First Communion? And I’m making her dress?

Thanks to the crack team of more experienced seamstresses I have on call 24-7?

Because I’m making it from my wedding dress?

Oh, yes. It will be blogged. But not live-blogged, because there are still a lot of pins in this thing and I can’t risk stepping on another one.

— 7 —

And finally, the maddest of all possible props to my three children, who teamed up to assist me in the Great Snail Purge of 2012. I have discovered the source of the coming apocalypse. It leaves an iridescent trail in the moonlight; it devours basil; it occasionally slimes its way into my HOUSE. My HOUSE. Where I walk BAREFOOT.

It is the slug brigade. When it’s time for invertebrates to play hardball, they send in the slugs. Oh. my. stars. But, thanks to Sluggo, we have killed them dead. And then we spent four hours pulling up weeds and collecting all the tiny and not-so-tiny empty snail shells underneath the bushes. “It’s a SNAY-LL! I see the SNAY-LL! Get the salt!” commanded the three-year-old. (Note: We did not use salt. I didn’t want to scorch the earth.) I am going to consider this at least one month’s worth of homeschool science and P.E., given the highly aerobic nature of extended snail gathering. And I promise to not mention snails on here for at least a month.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Values in Conflict… Stop: Hammertime. No, really: stop.

You know, I just don’t understand my husband.

For some reason – get this – he seems to think that 1:00 in the morning is an inappropriate time for me to start hanging pictures. The hammering is “a little loud.”

A little loud.

Does this guy have any vision whatsoever? Does he have any idea what it takes to get on Pinterest? If we are going to have a photo wall, it’s going to take focus. Going to take planning. Going to take a lack of interruptions. Where else can one find this environment save the precious hours of blackest night?

Now, granted, I’m looking at this thing in progress, and I’m realizing I already have some of the widths messed up, you know, the negative space between the frames. And I probably do need to use a level, and maybe a ruler.

So maybe, just this one time – I’ll come around to his way of thinking.

(just let me put this one more nail in…dangit, I dropped it…can’t see these nails without any light. Where is the LIGHT?)

Homemade rocket

Child with handmade rocket doll

The power of rocketry, in the palm of my hand

NOTE: This post is not liturgically appropriate for Lent. I have contracted what I hope is a mild case of writer’s block, so this is the best I can do. Please excuse references to Christmas during this solemn season of Lent.

So, ’round about December 16, I was panicking because we hadn’t bought enough stuff for the baby. I hadn’t made anything myself for the baby. The older kids would have more things to open than the baaaa-by! Waaaah!

But we already have about five times as many cars, trucks, trains, and planes as any family needs. I didn’t want to go get the child some junky toy just to ease my concerns about present distribution. And the one thing we had absolutely ZERO of was his favorite mode of transportation: rockets.

Robot doll

Robot doll includes mobile capabilities when equipped with toddler transportation module

Enter Etsy and Connie Lou Fabrics. The store owner designs panels of pocket doll patterns on soft polyester fleece, and all you need to do is cut them out, sew around the outside, and stuff with filling. So easy, you could complete them from 10:47-11:53 pm on Christmas Eve, or so I hear.

If you’re in need, therefore, of a easy DIY child’s present, check out her store!

You know what someone needs to make? Pocket doll patterns of the saints, or something. The robots frequently come with us to Mass, as they can be banged on the pew or dropped on the floor without making a sound. You can take that idea and run with it; I won’t come back and sue you once you’ve retired to the Caymans and count your millions.